Why I wrestle

Lately, I have been so excited to head home from work. Ok, you are thinking, who isn’t happy to leave the workplace behind? It is more than just calling it a day from meetings, memos, conference calls, however. It is the thrill of knowing I get to spend time with the kiddos – take a walk with them, throw the ball, watch their game. My time with them in this place is limited. I can imagine in a few years that Ri is not going to ask me to go roller skating on the hills with her and Mario is not going to beg me to watch Modern Family with him. A girlfriend posted this blog on Facebook; I saw it as I took my afternoon power walk around campus. I usually save such posts for another time (which typically doesn’t come – 50 “saves” waiting for me) and continue to scroll looking at posts from friends playing at the beach or hiking the mountains. Keep my mind busy with busy pictures. 

But I chose to open her post and read it. I was transported back to yesterday morning as I poured Maria’s Crispix and Mario’s Krave in separate blue bowls. I stopped the Krave mid-way rather than three-fourths of the way up the bowl because Mario complains if I give him too much cereal. I poured a bit of sugar on Ri’s Crispix and heated up her hot tea and honey to calm her sore throat. They both kept their eyes fixated on the tv as I handed them their cereal, shifting their outreached arms to find the bowl in front of them. I watch Ri bring spoon to mouth mesmerized by the girl talking on the tv. I watched Mario continue to stare at the picture and not begin to eat. I get on him like I do every morning.

“Mario, you have to eat breakfast.”

I repeat this two more times and he finally takes a bite. He will later leave one-fourth of the cereal sopping in the bowl and complain the cereal was too soggy. I repeat for the hundredth time that he needs to eat faster and then he won’t have that problem but he isn’t listening. 

I leave the house for work and I wish I was home with them. And then I’m home with them and sometimes wish I was at work. I’m sure they feel the same at times – want me there but also wish I’d leave so they could go into their reclusive worlds and play Sims or watch You Tube. That distance for a few hours hurls me back into their arms and wanting more of them. Eat their faces, squeeze their middles, kiss their shoulders. I’ve been doing a much better job over the years of soaking in that overt adoration and affection that only kids can give and take. 

We go upstairs to get ready for bed. I’ve called Ri five different times to come upstairs as she watches a final episode of Dance Moms. I’ve given two M&M yogurts to Mario who is starving because he only ate two bites of dinner.  They wrestle on the kitchen floor and swing each other around as I put Rocco in his kennel with a broken off piece of dog biscuit. I laugh at them and bark “come on” at least three times before Ri darts upstairs and Mario jumps on me to be carried to his room. They jump on the bed, beg me to wrestle. I tell them is it too late to wrestle. They beg me again. I say no again. They beg one more time. I give in…but put my foot down to  “only five minutes.”

I give in most of the time. I used to beat myself up about it and think “you have got to lay down the rules and be done.” But the blog post this morning reminded me of why I give in. They will be gone shortly. They will be living their lives outside of our family home. Hopefully, I will see them on a regular basis. But I may not. 

That is why I wrestle. 

Wrestling times

Mario brought home a wrestling flyer a couple of weeks ago. One of his friends was trying it out and he wanted to, also. The problem was that he had basketball on Tuesday nights and wrestling practice was Tuesdays and Thursdays. I tucked the flyer under some workbooks and forgot about it. Then Mario questioned me for the third time “can I try wrestling?” I emailed the coach who informed me that Mario was welcome to just attend on Thursdays.
I am not a big wrestling fan.
But we went last Thursday and Mario enjoyed it. He didn’t walk away yelling “I want to be a wrestler” but he enjoyed doing wrestling moves on his buddy and running around on the mat. Towards the end of the first practice, Ri joined in the fun. She ran around with the group of boys. There were two fourth grade boys who were practicing and Ri and they were teasing each other.
When we left that night, Ri said “I would like to try wrestling.” Nothing more came about it until this past Thursday night. I came home from work and Mario proclaimed “Ri is going to try wrestling!” I looked at Ri and she shrugged her shoulders like “no big deal.”
I fed them some chicken and grapes and we were off.
Ri participated in the warm-ups and gave all the moves a shot. However, some of the moves like where she had to tuck her hand in the boy’s armpit and grab his leg made her uncomfortable. And when they did it to her, I could tell she had experienced enough.

She leaned against the wall while the coach explained to the group that they were going to try out a “real” wrestling match. Ri looked straight over to me, eyes wide open, and shook her head no. She mouthed “I don’t want to do this.”
I waved her over to me. And that was that. No wrestling for my girl. Jon and I were relieved. She thanked the coach for letting her try it out. I was proud of her for giving it a try. A lot of girls her age may have never fathomed the But Ri didn’t flinch going out on the mat. She gave it a go and realized it wasn’t for her. Pretty simple. No pomp and circumstance; no tears; no excuses.
Meanwhile, Mario didn’t want to leave. Practice ended and he continued to climb the wall to try and reach the metal chin up bar. He finally reached it and did a chin up. The coach praised him. He looked over at me with that cool smile on his face, trying not to look excited about the compliment but not hiding his excitement to well. I gave him a thumbs up and Ri yelled “good job, Mario!” She’s his number one advocate.

We finally were able to pull him out of the wrestling room and get his shoes on him. Another reason I’m happy that Ri decided it wasn’t for her: the smell of sweat and heat on the two of them was nearly unbearable as we drove home.

A splinter takes down Macho

Our macho little Mario who consistently taunts us by saying “Bring It On” and wrestling us was taken down by a one inch splinter. 

He brushed his hand against the wood bannister outside and got a tiny splinter in the palm of his hand.  He came in to show me, and I told him it should be easy to get out.  He remembered back to the first splinter he got months ago – Jon had to literally hold his feet and arms down while I worked it out with a pair of tweezers.  Meanwhile he cried and fidgeted the entire time.  We were forced to take that route with him after begging him to voluntarily allow us to get it out.  He absolutely refused months ago and continued to absolutely refuse this time around.  When I approached him with the tweezers, he freaked out.  He ran away; he cried huge tears; he begged and pleaded to keep the splinter in his hand. 

I finally calmed him down after ten minutes and got him to agree to allow me to just look at it.  It took me another 10 minutes to get him to agree to allow me to use the tweezers on him, and that was only because I scared him half to death by telling him that his hand would have to be cut off if he didn’t get the splinter out.  But he would only allow me one pick with the tweezers so I could not get deep enough to get it out.  After the one pick, he grabbed his hand and rolled on his back crying “I can’t take it anymore!”  He then would plead that we must stop because the pain was too much.  Finally, he cried “I just want to die!” 

Our macho wrestler pre-splinterI couldn’t help but laugh.  Even Maria chuckled.  I finally got almost all of it out but there was just a small little piece that would have come out if I could have used the sharp end of a pair of scissors.  But as soon as I picked those up, he ran away yelling “Those are too sharp, mom!  Too sharp!”  After throwing the scissors fifty feet away from me to convince him I would not use them, he made his was back to me to get the final piece out.  And we did.  He got a band-aid and a big ol’ hug and within ten minutes he was begging me to wrestle him.

Skippin’ Football Sunday

The family woke up on Saturday and got working on cleaning our rooms.  It caused much heartburn in Maria on Saturday night – she worried that she would be bored cleaning her room.  “How can I make it fun, mom?” 

“I used to listen to music and dance around my room while I cleaned,” I told her.

A while later, she headed to her room to go to bed.  Jon and I were sitting downstairs when we heard Justin Bieber’s voice coming from upstairs.  A few minutes later we heard crying.  Jon went upstairs to see what was wrong.  Maria stood in her room with tears down her cheeks and told Jon “I am trying what mom told me to do but it isn’t working.  I am still not having fun.”  Poor thing….

That is why when we woke up on Sunday morning, I jumped out of bed and made cleaning fun!  I smiled and laughed and skipped around as I helped Maria pick up her room.  Mario jumped right in, too, picking up barbies and folding clothes.  Maria picked up a book here or there, made her bed and then moved on to getting dressed.  She is going to be one that takes two hours to clean her room on Saturday morning.  When we moved to Mario’s room, he lost interest in cleaning.  He was more concerned about jumping off his loft bed and doing kick stands around his room.  Maria helped me check the clothes on his floor to determine whether they were too little for him anymore and if they were dirty.  He somehow still does not understand where the laundry basket is located. 

Maria and Alana outside of the hospital with the flying pig

After cleaning, we got ready for the day.  Jon scooped up Mario under his wing, and headed to Dover, Ohio to visit Big Mario and Vicki for a day of pasta and wrestling.  I scooped up the Maria and Alana and headed to Cincinnati to visit my grandma in the hospital and to play at Aunt Julie’s house.  We listened to Big Time Rush for most of the ride and then colored pictures for grandma.  The kids were anxious to see grandma – I think they were more anxious to see “sick” people and the devices and instrumentalities of the hospital.  Neither of them remember a hospital.  They peered at the people in the hall and in the beds entranced by the fragility of life.  When they got to grandma’s room, they greeted her skeptically not quite sure if they should get near her.  As time went on, they got better at engaging with her eventually singing Christmas songs to her and talking to her about school.  Alana must have sung her 10 religious songs that she learned in Catholic school.  When Grandma asked Maria to sing a song, Maria belted out Jingle Bells!  My grandma looked at me and said “you need to get Maria in Sunday school.”  

After grandma’s, I took the girls to a delicious bagel shop in Blue Ash.  I grew up on these bagels and cream cheese.  They are fabulous.  We got toasted bagels with a load of cream cheese and sat at the bar.  Heaven.  Next, we headed to Julie’s to see her dogs and visit Grandma Lolo.  The girls LOVE to walk Julie’s dogs because they are just right for them.  Both are maybe 25 pounds and do not pull on their leashes.  They allow the girls to drag them anywhere.  A win-win situation for all. 

I went back to the hospital to be with grandma. We had a pleasant conversation about her friends, card parties, and needing solitude.  Us Menkedick brood all have that solitude gene in common – we need alone time to be our best.  We picked it up from grandma, I learned. When I returned to Julie’s house, the girls were downstairs listening to records on a Fisher Price record player.  Yes, records!  Maria was amazed at the looks of the record player, laughing at how I used to have to listen to music on such an antiquated device!

We hopped in the car to head back to Columbus.  Alana’s parents are much more strict than Jon and I and wanted Alana home by 7:30 since it was a school night.  We raced up I-71 in order to hit McDonald’s Playland for ten minutes (it has become a staple with each Cincy trip).  We got Alana home 1 minute late and proceeded to Orange Leaf for a frozen yogurt treat before bed. 

Mario walking up the long hill.

The boys met up with us at the house – they were exhausted from four-wheeling and wrestling all day.  Little Mario also decided that he was old enough to walk up the long hill from Mario’s shop to Mario’s house all by himself.  He got tired of waiting for Jon to finish his conversation with Big Mario and informed Jon that he was big enough to take the trek himself.  Jon agreed, not sure if he would make it or not.  But that boy has determination and will when he needs it and he made it.  

We all gave each other kisses hello, got in our pjs and headed to our beds – no time to watch football on this jam-packed Sunday….